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# Amusement Park Rides: The Ferris Wheel

Physics STSE Unit 1
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on 8 April 2013

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#### Transcript of Amusement Park Rides: The Ferris Wheel

Amusement Park Rides: The Use of Physics Concepts In Ferris Wheels The Use of Physics Concepts In Ferris Wheels Connection to Society Gravitational Potential Energy and Kinetic Energy
Gravity and Momentum
Centripetal and Centrifugal Force The Use of Physics Concepts In Ferris Wheels Gravitational Potential Energy is identified as the energy that is obtained by an object due to its elevation above the Earth’s surface. This particular class of energy is dependent on the object’s height above a reference point, and mass. The equation that explains gravitational potential energy is: Due to the Law of Conservation of Energy, all amusement park rides, including Ferris wheels, conserve total energy. This law states that in an isolated system, in this case the Ferris wheel, the total energy remains constant. Although the total energy remains constant, the forms in which the energy is present, do not always remain in the same form. In an isolated system (or closed system), energy cannot be created or destroyed, however, energy can be transferred from one form to another. In other words, every change in one form of energy will result in a change in the other form(s) of energy within the system. For example, if kinetic energy in a Ferris Wheel increases, then the gravitational potential energy must decrease to conserve the energy within the system. The equation that is used o explain this law is: Safety, Society, and Design Gravitational Potential Energy and Kinetic Energy Kinetic Energy is identified as the energy that is obtained by an object due to its motion. Kinetic energy differs depending on the velocity and mass of the particular object in motion. The equation that explains kinetic energy is: Gravitational Potential Energy and Kinetic Energy Where the Energy Total is equal to the change in Gravitational Potential Energy plus Kinetic Energy The Use of Physics Concepts In Ferris Wheels Gravitational Potential Energy and Kinetic Energy Ferris Wheel On a Ferris Wheel, both kinetic and gravitational potential energy are present. By using the law of conservation of energy, one can explain the changes in energy that are present during the ride. Friction and air resistance will be ignored. The Ferris wheel consists of an upright wheel with passenger gondolas (seats) attached to the rim. These gondolas can freely pivot at the support where they are connected to the Ferris wheel. As a result, the gondolas always hang downwards at all times as the Ferris wheel spins. The Use of Physics Concepts In Ferris Wheels Gravitational Potential Energy and Kinetic Energy The gears and motors pull the gondolas up into air. The small motor is used to create electrical energy. This electrical energy is converted into kinetic energy, which results in the rotation of the wheel.

At point "a", the newly formed kinetic energy begins to move/rotate the wheel. At the lowest point of the ride, there is zero gravitational potential energy. The gondolas located at the bottom of the wheel, begin to be lifted into the air by means of kinetic energy until they reach the highest point of the wheel.

These gears are also used to transfer energy from place to place, as well as make the power of something increase immensely by a power ratio or gear ratio. The Use of Physics Concepts In Ferris Wheels Gravitational Potential Energy and Kinetic Energy At point "b", when the gondolas reach the top of the Ferris wheel, maximum gravitational potential energy is reached. From this point, to the bottom of the wheel, the resulting motion is due to the gravitational potential energy of the system.

Therefore, one can conclude that the ride moves from point "a" to "b" by means of kinetic energy (from electrical energy), and moves back to its initial position from point "b" to "a" by means of gravitational potential energy.

Once the gondolas reach the bottom of the wheel, gravitational potential energy reaches it's minimum while kinetic energy begins to increase. At this point in the ride, all forces acting on the wheel result in a greater acceleration. The Use of Physics Concepts In Ferris Wheels Gravity and Momentum Gravity is a force that attracts objects towards the center of the Earth. It is measured in terms of acceleration. Momentum on the other hand, is identified as "mass in motion". An object's momentum depends on two variables, which are it's velocity and mass. Momentum is the product of and is directly related to these two factors At the beginning of the ride, the individual gondolas are brought to the top of the wheel by means of a motor and gears. This is the only time gravity and momentum are not used to maintain and sustain the momentum of the system.

Once the gondolas reach the top of the wheel, the momentum, provided by the lift from the gears and motors, propel the gondolas over the highest point of the wheel. As the gondolas move over the highest point of the wheel, gravity begins to take over.

Gravity causes the individual gondolas to accelerate back down. This results in an increase in each gondola's velocity, which therefore increases the momentum.

As the gondolas finish their initial decent and begin to ascend again, its momentum, which is now greatly increased (due to gravity), allow the gondolas to make their way back up to the point in which the motor takes over. The Use of Physics Concepts In Ferris Wheels Centripetal and Centrifugal Force Centripetal and centrifugal forces are important when observing the motion of a rotating Ferris wheel. A centripetal force is the net force which causes centripetal acceleration. This force's direction is always towards the middle point of the circle. A centrifugal force is a fictitious force that acts away from the center of the circle during rotation. From the passenger's frame of reference, a centrifugal force is in action as the gondola rotates. The passengers tend to experience a feeling of being pushed away from the center of the wheel.
Centripetal acceleration and force are identified by the following formulas: This experienced force is explained by using Newton's first law when you analyze the passenger through the Earth's frame of reference. The passenger in the gondola is seen maintaining a state of motion, due to their inertia, while the gondola itself, is creating a force that pushes them towards the middle of the wheel. The Use of Physics Concepts In Ferris Wheels Centripetal and Centrifugal Force This force is known as the centripetal force which permits the passenger to stay within the gondola rather than falling out of it. If this important force was not present, passengers would be injured. Connection to Society Safety, Society, and Design As with any amusement park ride, safety is the primary concern of both the manufacturer and the operator. Current safety regulations governing Ferris wheels vary from city to city and state to state.
The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) is in the process of developing a comprehensive standard for the design, testing, manufacturing, and operation of all amusement park rides.
Ferris wheel manufacturers and amusement park operators are actively participating in this process. Connection to Society Safety, Society, and Design Ferris wheels that are particularly designed to be transported on the road from one location to another. In order to do so, the ride must conform to the overall width, height, and length restrictions for highway vehicles.
No matter how big or small the Ferris wheel is when it is opened and in operation, it must fold down to meet certain restrictions when it is traveling on the highway.
The Ferris wheel must also be designed to operate safely. This requires calculations to ensure the horizontal and vertical forces of the fully loaded wheel can be supported when the wheel is in operation. To ensure safety, it also requires the design of safety interlocks to prevent the wheel from revolving during loading and unloading operations, and to prevent the operator from unintentionally operating the wheel in an unsafe manner.
The entrance and exit stairs and walkways, safety fences, and trim pieces are also fabricated, painted, and installed.
Over the years however, there has been a debate about increasing the level of safety of this ride.
After many unfortunate incidents where passengers have fallen off the ride, many parents and individuals are urging the manufacturing companies to instal seat belts.
The manufacturers of the giant wheels however, have heard and resisted those calls before, saying the restraints do no good.
Although many manufactures have denied/ignored the complaints of many individuals, the heated debate still continues. Connection to Society Safety, Society, and Design Hypothetical Question! The figure below shows a Ferris wheel that rotates four times each minute. It carries each car around a circle of diameter 16.0 m. Given that:
The mass of the rider (m )=37kg
Diameter of the circle(d) =16m
Then the radius of the circle is (r) =8m
Acceleration due to gravity (g) =9.8m/s2
The wheel rotates 4 times around the circle in a minute Find:
a) What is the centripetal acceleration of a rider?
b) What force does the seat exert on a 37.0 kg rider at the lowest point of the ride?
c) What force does the seat exert on the rider at the highest point of the ride? a) sol. b) sol. c) sol.
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